Trail Running: 42 Reasons to Start Today

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Runners, just like everyone else, are often set in their ways.

We like our shoe brands. We’re loyal to certain races. And our favorite routes?

Well they’ll most certainly be covered at least 3 times per week.

So it’s no surprise that many road runners are hesitant to leave the comfort of the pavement for something new. Especially when it involves dirt, water, and bears.

I was the same way until a roommate convinced me to hit the dirt, and almost overnight my running changed forever.

I was hooked.

But one mans story alone isn’t enough to convert a true pavement pounder, so let’s dive in a little deeper.

42 Reasons to Start Trail Running

2) Wildlife on the road usually comes in the form of roadkill, but on the trail, you are one with nature and all the wildlife that comes with it.

3) Trail running is easier on the body than pounding the pavement. It’s even known to help prevent running injuries.

4) Trail running works your ankles and feet, helping to strengthen muscles and make you a stronger runner.

5) You aren’t going to get hit by a car on the trail, so while other dangers might be of concern, traffic most certainly is not.

6) Balance is a big issue for many of us. When trail running we are forced to adjust our balance with every stride. Over time that practice will improve our balance (here’s looking at you, Pops).

7) Boredom is much less of an issue when you’re constantly engaged in your footing and the surroundings are so beautiful.

8) Trail running lets you experience the seasons in the rugged way nature intended.

9) Roads are designed so that hills are not too steep or sudden. Trails are not. You can run killer hill workouts on the trail that could never be done on road. And don’t forget the downhills are just as fun.

10) Some of the best running races in the world are run on trails. By getting into trail running, you open yourself up to a whole new world of races both locally and elsewhere.

11) By running the singletrack, you gain immediate membership into a new running subculture. One that’s always ready to welcome new members.

12) If you want to run ultramarathons, you better start thinking about trail running. Most ultras are run on trail.

13) Trail running works a variety of muscles in the legs and back, giving you a more well-rounded workout than running on smooth pavement. This is important for strength and helps prevent injuries.

14) Trails can be found just about anywhere. Even in the heart of many major cities.

15) Every new location provides a distinct trail experience. The type, elevation, and views from one trail can be completely different than another.

16) When running you can cover much more ground than hiking. Turn that 5 mile day hike through the woods into a 10 mile trail run in the same amount of time!

17) Nothing screams adventure like a trip deep into the wild wilderness.

18) Slow trail running builds muscle that road running just can’t do. When you hit the roads after a few trail outings, you’ll notice that new strength speed.

19) People, bikes, and strollers all crowd the sidewalks. Get away from the crowds by hitting the trail.

20) Remember when you were a kid playing in the dirt? Yeah, getting dirty fun … and really easy to do when trail running.

21) Run selfies captured on mountain peaks or river banks are a lot sweeter than you can from a city sidewalk.

22) Trail running can be turned into an entire vacation by camping out on the trail and running during the day.

23) Need a boost to your self-esteem? Tell people you are trail runner. They’ll think you are a badass, trust me.

24) Everyone likes to have an excuse to run slow. You will naturally run slower on trails than the road, so now you don’t have to hide it!

25) Training at a higher altitude makes running at low elevations easier. Trails will often lead you up a mountain or along a ridge, providing great opportunities for running at elevation.

26) Trail running blogs and podcasts make you feel tough.

27) Being a trail runner doesn’t mean you can’t still run roads. In fact you probably should.

28) You burn 10% more calories trail running than you do on regular road running.

29) Many runners rank solitude as one of their favorite parts about running. On the right trail, you will feel like you are the only person in the world.

30) Trail hills can be tough, but no one in the trail running community cares if you throw your hands on your knees and power-hike your way up the hill. In fact, it’s expected!

31) Trying out a new sport means trying out cool new gear!

32) It is really easy to get lost when trail running (in your thoughts, hopefully not on the trail).

33) Adrenaline keeps a lot of runners going when they are tired. By moving your run to a more extreme location (a trail), that adrenaline pumps harder.

34) When you need a rest, it’s a lot more pleasant to rest by a creek, under a tree, or on a mountain peak than on a street corner.

35) You’ll begin to feel like a Tarahumara Indian.

36) It is easy to turn a short run into an all-day trek through the woods. Switch between hiking and running if you want to spend more time on the trail.

37) After following a few simple steps, even the indoorsman can feel prepared.

38) The softer surface will help keep your feet healthy as you break in those new trail kicks.

39) You’ll impress a tired hiker.

40) Because you’re running slower and burning more calories, you can bring more delicious foods with you on your run than just an energy gel. Runners have been known to eat cookies and chips, and even drink soft-drinks (or hard ones!) during races.

41) Right now you probably get weird looks when you break out the headlamp for early morning or late evening road runs. No one out on the trail at that time of day/night would think twice about the glowing lantern coming from your forehead.

42) Trail scars are impressive.

Still not convinced?

Written by

Ultra runner, coach, blogger, podcaster, and husband. Co-host of @NoMeatAthlete Radio. Learn to run trails:

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